The Belfry District -- The first thing you'll likely notice about Mons is the Beffroi (Belfry), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the highest point in town. Don't worry if you feel an urge to giggle at your first sight of this tower; it does look a bit comical, and as Victor Hugo remarked, somewhat like "an enormous coffee pot, flanked below belly-level by four medium-size teapots." Don't be perplexed if you hear the tower referred to as le château -- it sits near the site of an old castle of the counts of Hainaut, and even though the castle was demolished in 1866, local people have never broken the habit of using the old designation.

A short distance across square du Château from the Belfry is the Chapel St-Calixte (tel. 065/35-12-08), the oldest structure in town, dating from 1051. The chapel holds the Musée du Château des Comtes (Museum of the Castle of the Counts), which contains relics, models, and archaeological finds. It's open May to mid-September Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm, and mid-September to April Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Admission is 3€ ($4.80) for adults, 1.50€ ($2.40) for seniors, and free for children 12 and under.

The Grand-Place -- Almost everything you'll want to see here is on, or no more than a short walk from, the Grand-Place, which is lined by fine historic buildings and surrounded by steep, cobbled streets. If you're here when the weather is good, be sure to fit in some time at a sidewalk cafe on the Grand-Place.


The square's centerpiece is the 15th-century Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). Access is by a free guided tour from the tourist office, July to August daily at 2:30pm (at other times by arrangement). As you go through its main entrance, look to the left and perhaps stop to rub the head of "the monkey of the Grand-Garde," an iron monkey that's been granting good luck since the 15th century. Needless to say, by this time he has a very shiny pate. Inside the Town Hall are antique tapestries and paintings. The Town Hall courtyard, occupied by the fountains, trees, flowers, and plants of the Jardin du Mayeur (Mayor's Garden), is a good place to relax.

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